Well, I finally sat down and made out my yearly canning wish list so that I know what to keep an eye out for at local farmer’s markets and produce stands:
- Tomatoes (chopped)
- Butter Beans
- Navy Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Garbanzo Beans
- Refrigerator Pickles
- My Secret Recipe Green Beans
- Dilled Carrots
- Boston Bakes Beans
- Tomato Baked Beans
- Fruit (various)
- Sweet Potatoes
- Blackberry/Strawberry/Raspberry Lemonade Concentrate
- Okra Stew
- Tomato Gravy
- Soup (Beans and Greens)
- Soup (Minestrone)
- Soup (Split Pea)
- Salmon Chowder Base
- Tropical Sauce
- Various Herb Pestos
Saturday we picked up 28 lbs of Roma tomatoes from a produce stand in Edmonds. Although they are not organic, which would have been my preference, I couldn’t pass up tomatoes at ~$0.61/lb. At least they aren’t on the Dirty Dozen list so I feel marginally better about that at least. We also got our hands on our first pickling cucumbers of the season and using 3 extra-large jars were able to can our first batch of about 7 quarts of my world-famous “SpongeBob’s Crispylicious and Oh-So-Garlicky Refrigerator Pickles”. A recipe that started as a lazy way to get rid of the last of some pickling cukes and leftover pickling brine and turned into the best pickle chips this side of Canter’s delicatessen. I had originally tried canning pickles (the kind you can store in the cupboard) but I realized that the reason I wasn’t impressed with them is the same reason I have NEVER liked any pickles that have been canned for long-term shelf-stability… they are cooked and no longer have that crispy texture that makes me go into a deep pickle swoon. There is a good reason that I have single-handedly kept Claussen in business all these years. Of course the downside the refrigerator pickles is that they must by definition be kept in the fridge and finding room for enough pickles to see me through the year when pickling cukes have limited availability is a challenge. I should state that I do plan on water bath canning a few quarts of pickles as I like to have that type around for my Polish Dill Pickle Soup. And if you have never tried a creamy and warm potato and dill pickle soup with crusty bread on a cold night you have never really experienced life as it should be lived… with pickles.
On Sunday I was able to harvest about 5lbs of purple kale, rainbow chard, and sorrel. I’ve sautéed the chard with some smoked salt and veggie seasoning from the Farmer’s market to serve over pasta, storing it in the fridge for impromptu eating. The sorrel and some miner’s lettuce has been turned into vegan sorrel pesto which I froze into ice-cube trays for storage in the freezer since you really cannot home can anything with a high oil content for safety reasons and the purple kale will go into home canned minestrone soup.
Interruption: ACK! ACK! ACK! I set the bags of fresh greens on the table and after dinner we went to reach for the bottle of mineral water and sitting right on top of the bottle cap with his antlers fully extended and a very excited look on his face was a SNAIL! I have to go faint now. I made Miss Skinny Pants release him back into the wild… hopefully in the neighbor’s yard and then bleach the bottle cap. Have I mentioned that snails and slugs and really anything from the one-foot-and-a-slime-trail genre gives me a seizure? Except Lowly Worm. He wore a shoe and a hat and was considerate about not leaving slime. Okay, and now we’re back…
After putting it out there that I needed a counter top composting bin I was able to find a nice ceramic one for $3.00 at Deseret Industries. AND, just as good, after reluctantly leaving Ian McDonald’s Desolation Road at Barnes & Noble the other night because it was $17.00 before taxes and the other CV has been sent home from work for an indefinite time while they sort out some kind of legal nonsense among the contractors and suits, I stumbled across it used today for only $4.00 when we stopped in at Third Place Commons in Lake Forest Park for some pickle sushi after working at the P-Patch all afternoon (yes, it’s really real and yes I had two orders of it). I discovered Third Place Books was having a 40% off sale on used books today. TPC is also a most excellent place for free and low-cost entertainment. Aside from the people watching, which is excellent, today there was a showing of Lilo & Stitch with popcorn and bean bags provided. Later in July we will be heading back over for a night of live Scandinavian Polka and vegan brownies. I mean really people, you can’t make this stuff up. Another night will be a 17 piece swing band and on Saturday mornings, Tai Chi… to help me with my chubby balance.
Okay, I’m off to make a crustless apricot pie and some dill pickle rye bread.
When we first got word from our former landlord that he was losing the condo to foreclosure and we would need to move I spent a considerable amount of time in a state of high anxiety convinced that we were looking down the barrel of living in either a freezer box on the street or perhaps one of those weekly hotels with rental sheets and a generous sprinkling of prostitutes and crack addicts. Now is probably the time to admit that in my mental world everyone online is thinner and better looking than me, everyone I went to high school with more successful, every prospective tenant more appealing and with better credit and every other job applicant more qualified. It’s exciting to be me, no? Thankfully, we are NOT living with cardboard walls or fending off the tempting money-making offers of street pimps but after this move the life of a wandering mendicant is looking more and more like a practical lifestyle choice. Whoever recommended moving a freezer with the food still in it so that nothing defrosts needs to be slapped really hard with a frozen mackerel. And what’s with all the boxes? I dump them in the garage and then every time I go back in there… more boxes. It is clear to me that they are breeding in there. And the old condo is like Mary Poppins bag, every time we reach in and take something out something else appears. At this rate we won’t be done moving until… maybe… Christmas??? Okay, I vented enough now. And truly I am thankful for the beautiful home and wonderful landlord we have found.
This last week has been an exciting and challenging one in so far as cooking has been more difficult in terms of both prep ( I can’t find all my kitchen stuff) and finding the time and energy to cook. But we have actually made some really tasty and relatively easy to prepare meals given the circumstances. One night we made a quick vegan curry “stew” served over red Thai Hom Mali rice using S&B Golden Curry mix with potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, home canned butter beans and chunks of delicata squash. The great thing about using
delicata is that even though it is a “winter squash” the skin is thin and edible making it a breeze to use in stews and soups. Another night I chunked up a half-dozen tomatoes, some onions, red peppers, garlic and zucchini and simmered it all, no water, with some Italian herbs. When it had cooked down we added sautéed meatless Italian sausage chunks from Trader Joe’s and sliced green olives. I think of it as my Puttanesca Stew… which I was thrilled to find out means “Whore’s” stew. I think that has a certain ring to it. Last night I made a Mexican cornbread casserole by mixing Trader Joe’s soy chorizo with roasted corn, diced onions and peppers a little enchilada sauce and topping it all with cornbread batter and baking it. On the side I made a green salad of romaine hearts, grape tomatoes, cucumber slices, black olives and red onion slivers. The dressing I made by tossing some tofu, half an avocado, the juice of one lemon, jarred guacamole mix and some water in the blender. It made a wonderfully creamy Mexican style avocado dressing. Topped with cracked pepper the salad was a real winner.
We have taken real advantage of Freecycle the week (see the link on the right), using it to re-home many of our moving boxes as well some items we didn’t need or no longer have any use for. It’s been a real godsend not having to either throw these things out or haul them away and that doesn’t even take into account that these items are going to someone who needs them. It’s another step in our effort to consume and waste less. I was also able to find a second-hand shower chair that retails new at Home Depot for $90 in perfect condition for $10 as well as a gorgeous, nice condition overstuffed reading chair for $40 at our local Goodwill.
Hopefully tomorrow I can start posting normally again, including real recipes and ideas and such. We have done well sticking to our vegan plan this week but we have modified it to include occasional fish which I realize makes it a non vegan diet but thankfully the world is still a place where we can make our own rules and labels for ourselves. Perhaps we should consider calling ourselves “vegish”? Yeah, we’re vegish, I like that! Of course that means we’d have to change the blog title to Two Chubby Vegishes. What exactly IS the plural of a vegish? Vegi? Ah well… more mysteries to ponder!
* Cheating alert* Junior found a can of Spam in his room tonight (don’t ask because I have NO idea and I’m afraid I don’t want to know) and given my embarrassing weakness for preformed, overly salty and canned pork products used to make things like Spam Musubi, I see a possible moral dilemma in my near musubi future. And you simply cannot make decent Spam from tofu no matter how hard you try.
On the more positive side, I’m feeling particularly thrifty this week as we prepare to move into our new home with several “new” goodies. On the “reuse and rehome” front this week we scored a Waring Pro Blender for $8.00, a gorgeous stoneware shortbread mold for $2.99 and a Breadman Ultimate bread machine for $0.00 on Freecycle (the best thing about this last one is that you can throw the ingredients in the machine, set it, set the timer, go to bed and wake up to a loaf of warm bread as it mixes it, kneads it and bakes it all in one… now if only they would invent one that removes the calories after slicing and buttering it).
Forgetting my knotweed fiasco last week I started my spring canning today. With our change to veganism we are eating a lot more beans and while dried beans are certainly less expensive than canned, canned are a lot more convenient. My solution, can your own. I’ve tried freezing them after cooking but I find it makes the beans more mushy and storing either big containers or zip lock bags of beans in the freezer, even a chest freezer is a pain. And trying to quickly defrost a large bag of frozen beans that froze in big ziplock wrinkles is a real treat… NOT. Not to mention I like having foods that won’t go bad and can be eaten out of hand in the event of a power failure. I know, I know, more zombie apocalypse preparation you’re thinking, but no, just being prepared in general. As it is I’ve been avoiding canning my own beans because it seemed like a big hassle to cook the beans first and then can them but as it turns out I don’t have to do that. I’m following a simple procedure I found online. Right now I’m prepping 7 quarts of black beans, 6 quarts of garbanzo beans and 1 quart of field peas. We got the field peas from our local farmer’s market last year and they taste remarkably like split peas when cooked in soup (a fact that doesn’t impress the other vegan AT ALL I might add… she hates split peas) so I am curious to see what happens when they’re canned. Oh, and I strongly recommend that even if you buy your bulk beans from a grocery store you double-check them before canning, and here’s why (see picture below)…
[I thought I had 7 jars of black beans and 6 jars of garbanzo beans. 1 jar of black beans shattered when I set it into the pressure canner and one jar of garbanzo beans has come up missing. (?!?!?!?!).]
As I finish this the black beans are just coming up to pressure and must go for 90 minutes so I will post the photos tomorrow or the day after as I have to take a few loads over to the new house in the morning as well as doing a bit more garden prep.
1. Place 1 cup of beans in each clean quart jar and cover with hot water.
2. Soak overnight.
3. Rinse several times in cool water and replace the beans in the jars.
4. Fill each jar with hot water to within 1/2 inch of the top and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
5. Pressure can at 10lbs for 90 minutes.
6. For pint jars use 1/2 cup beans, 1/2 tsp salt and can for 75 mins at 10lbs.
The other night I made a Tofu and Apricot Tagine and it turned out WONDERFULLY. My only observation is that I would have preferred it without the tofu and used more vegetables and fruit. The other vegans in the house disagree, but as I pointed out, I’M the cook! Neener neener neener. So there! And again, I changed the recipe to the point where it really bears little resemblance to the original so I’m including it here:
Fresh Apricot and Tofu Tagine
16 oz super firm tofu, marinated in vegetarian chicken broth and poultry seasoning and cut into cubes
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 cups vegetarian chicken broth
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (I used chili spiced dried pineapple)
6 apricots, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 to 4 tbsp cornstarch mixed with cool water
1. Place marinated and drained tofu on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and brown under the broiler, turning as needed. Set aside.
2. Coat large pot or dutch oven with cooking spray and add carrots and onion. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until lightly brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Add ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and chile flakes. Cook one minute, stirring often. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Add stock paste, water and dried fruit and bring to steady simmer.
3. Add tofu back into pot. reduce heat and gently simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, uncovered and stirring occasionally. Add cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened to desired consistency. Add fresh apricots and simmer until soft, but not falling apart, about 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. taste and adjust seasoning.
4. Serve over couscous, brown rice, quinoa or any soft whole grain. Each serving can be topped with pine nuts and mint (we used chopped scallions). Stew can be prepared up to 2 days in advance; cover and refrigerate. Reheat gently. Serves 6.
Serving Size 268 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 42
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4.6g, 7%
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg, 0%
Sodium 687mg, 29%
Total Carbohydrates 16.9g, 6%
Dietary Fiber 2.9g, 12%
|Vitamin A 80%||
Vitamin C 14%
Nutrition Grade B+
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Before I barrel into what happened diet-wise today I should mention I have NOT canned the Japanese Knotweed yet. What was supposed to be a 5 minute trip to sign paperwork with our new landlord turned into a 3 hour conversation over tea followed by a frantic trip to our neighborhood teriyaki place for stir-fried tofu and veggie tempura. So one might say the “fat” ship sailed again today but really, by 8:30 we were ready to gnaw off our own arms from hunger. Even worse, *I* had a part of a cheese sandwich this afternoon. I had thought I would be able to continue having meat and dairy in the house for my catering, and as long as it’s frozen I am fine but let me defrost it, put it in the fridge or cook it and all my willpower heads to Ensenada for a beer and a vacation. So no knotweed, no willpower and the cat won’t speak to me. BUT we did run up the street to our local second-hand shop (we call it the room of requirement and if you get the reference you rock!) to look for a new living room reading chair, which we did not find but we did find 2 older but in very good shape electric space heaters for our son’s new basement room and our new bedroom, or maybe the office downstairs. AND, to make it even better it was 50% off day so we got both heaters and some extra canning jars for about $7.50. (Doing the Snoopy dance today.) I will try to can again tomorrow as the water bath canner is sitting on the stove as we speak giving me it’s most pathetic and neglected look.
Now, onward and forward… I have decided that I simply cannot BEAR another moment without tuna. Mind you, when I was eating tuna I wasn’t eating tuna that often but nonetheless, absence has made the tuna heart grow fonder apparently. So, after tasting an absolutely fantastic vegan tuna substitute at the Wayward Vegan Cafe in the University District (which is across and down the street from Pizza Pi, the site of my first OMG! vegan pizza epiphany) I decided that I had to come up with something. I would have asked the guys at the Wayward for a sort of hint on how they make it but they tend to communicate recipes in what I term an “economy of expression”… i.e. not even Julia Child could figure anything out from what they say. Not that Julia “oh she of the creamery butter” Child would WANT a vegan tuna recipe but you get my meaning. So, here it is, my first attempt at vegan tuna and according to the other vegans in the house it is pretty darn lip smackity.
SpongeBob Fishpants’ Tuna-riffic Vegan Sandwich Spread
1 cup whole brazil nuts
2 (20 oz) cans garbanzo beans
1 tbsp Sweet pickle relish
1 1/2 tbsp brown mustard
2 tbsp nonfat tofu mayonaise
2 scallions, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1. Soak brazil nuts in cool water overnight and then chop finely in a food processor. Don’t process until it’s nut butter though, you want texture in your “tuna”.
2. Rinse and drain garbanzo beans. Mash to desired consistency. Add brazil nuts, relish, mustard, mayo, scallions and celery to the beans and mix thoroughly. If mixture is too thick you can add more mayo or a bit of plant milk (I used plain rice milk).
3. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed for personal taste or let each person season their own sandwich/wrap. Makes aprox. 8 generous servings (You could realistically cut these servings in half and conveniently cut the calories in half as well).
Serving Size 1 serving (89.1 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 80
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8.9g, 14%
Saturated Fat 0.4g, 2%
Cholesterol 0mg, 0%
Sodium 86mg, 4%
Total Carbohydrates 42.7g, 14%
Dietary Fiber 12.2g, 49%
Vitamin A 2% • Vitamin C 6%
Calcium 7% • Iron 24%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet